SKATEBOARDERS CALL NEW RIVERSIDE SKATEPARK PLAN ‘WEAK’ AND ‘EXCLUSIONARY’

skatepark today2
The park as it looks today. Photo courtesy of Tyler Silvestro.

While the architect for an updated skateboarding park inside Riverside Park at 108th street says the design is a major improvement, some skateboarders with deep connections to the park are balking.

A group called Save Riverside Skatepark has released a statement (posted below) responding to the design. Many of the group’s members were friends with Andy Kessler, a skateboarding legend who created the park in 1995 and passed away in 2009. One member, Ian Clarke, told us via email that one problem with the new design is “the height of the elements.”

“The existing skatepark is three tier (small, madium and large). The proposed overall park including fenced and street area is two tier only (small and medium).”

Tyler Silvestro of W Architecture and Landscape Architecture, who presented the proposed design, said he had taken into account feedback from several skatepark users, and tried to honor Kessler’s memory. “Looking at the history of the site was very instrumental and helpful in our process.” He wanted the new skatepark to use “contemporary materials and conditions that skaters are now skating.”

A diagram of the proposed park is below and we posted more about the proposed design here.

skatepark4

The opposition group is organizing via Facebook and members may attend Tuesday night’s community board meeting (starts at 6:30 at Fordham, 113 west 60th street) and speak during an open public comment session early in the meeting. Presented with the group’s objections, a parks department spokesman wrote that “NYC Parks is excited about providing a re-envisioned skate park to Riverside Park skateboarders, that takes into consideration a wide range of usership and skating skills.” The parks department will be reviewing the design this week with the Landmarks Preservation Commission in advance of an expected LPC hearing.

Here’s the Save Riverside Skatepark group’s full statement:

Subject Line:
Riverside Skatepark redesign does not serve the needs of the community

Email:
Position Statement on initial Riverside Skatepark redesign proposal

Initial reception to the New York City Parks Department’s proposed skatepark design intended to replace the existing Riverside Skatepark facility has been met with a unanimous cry of disappointment and anger.

• The new Riverside Skatepark design proposal fails to fulfill the needs of the community. It’s a weak street plaza-focused design and a complete reversal of the parks original design vision.

• The outcome is contrary to the need of the skating population.

• The proposed design is exclusionary to a substantial percentage of it’s citizen user base, which are transitional skaters (people that skate bowls and banks). Even more alarming: NYC Parks has built about 20 small street plaza skateparks while ignoring the need for well-balanced skateparks. So this is trend amounts to policy not just for Riverside, but all it’s projects in recent memory.

• The new design should adopt the original intention of the Andy Kessler facility, which is a transition-focused skateboard park with diverse elements for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced transitional elements and a Street Plaza.

• The proportions of space allocation, for Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Street for the new design should roughly match existing Riverside Skatepark facility.

• That NYC Parks Dept. indeed has the best of intentions in it’s creating skateparks city-wide. This is a great thing and we love this. We believe that these mistakes are an understandable result of the community needs being understudied.

• The Riverside Skatepark location is the most important and significant location currently being developed on the East Coast. We’d like the City of New York, W Architecture and Landscape Architecture, LLC and whatever vendor it chooses to design and build to frame the design with this in mind.

• Arbitrary and capricious: Historically, NYC Parks Department has adopted an ad-hoc regulation of a three-foot height maximum for it skatepark banks. No where in the NYC Parks Department skatepark guideline is a three-foot height restriction listed. This insistence of the ad-hoc regulation is arbitrary and capricious and has the direct effect of denying recreational use and artistic expression of a substantial percentage of the City’s user base. The CIty of New York is decades behind the rest of the world in this regards.

• Another myth is a limit to the dig depth due to connecting into the existing drainage system. A dry well storm water disposal system as allowed by NYC building code Section PC 1114 and allows you to dig deeper.

• New York City has the largest demographic of skateboarders in the world. Let’s build them world-class skateparks. Lets not miss the opportunity to create thoughtful, destination-quality skating elements. The best analogy here would be: where would our tourism business be if we forced the theaters to produce third-rate shows.

• Early in the design process, the Riverside Skatepark Coalition submitted design suggestions based on a wide survey of users. This design endorsed with a five hundred signature petition. We’d like to consult on the elements for the replacement park.

• We’d like to see some other design ideas for a robust, fully featured, forward-thinking skatepark for Riverside Skatepark that works both for the skaters and residents of the upper west side.

• Perhaps additional vendors for the design and construction should be considered at this time. There are regional vendors that are perhaps more progressive and responsive than California Skateparks. (Worthy of note here is that representative that California Skateparks sent to the design unveiling was very forthcoming that he had zero knowledge of the project. He was also an hour late due to another, clearly more important, project).

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 23 comments | permalink
    1. jeff Berger says:

      As a lawyer I have a few questions. 1) are skateboarders required to wear helmets? (2) do they sign wavers before they use the park? 3) Is there adult supervision when the park is open?
      4) who is liable if anyone is injured or killed?

      • Skater not a lawyer says:

        Skateboarding is classified at a known hazardous activity, like horseback riding. Participants ride at their own risk and assume their own liability. As a lifelong skateboarder I recommend you, a lawyer, bark up another tree. Or chase a different ambulance.

        • Eddie says:

          Please relax. I think what he is getting at is wondering whether the city limited the challenging aspects of the skate park due to liability issues. If, as you suggest, there are none, then my guess is that he is more likely to side with the letter writers – I am not a lawyer and was wondering the same things. By being hostile to people rather than politely answering their questions you are not helping your own cause.

        • jeff Berger says:

          The point I was trying to make is that this is a public park This means that you, the taxpayer, may be liable. That means that any lawsuit will come out of your pocket. A horse trail is not an invitation to speed or jumping. A park where people are encouraged to go fast, do jumps and flips, causes serous issues of liability. I am a lawyer, but I don’t practice. I am only asking if the city or local board has considered these issues.

          • Zulu says:

            Jeff, the current facilities require that users don complete protective gear, from helmet to pads (knees and elbows). The Parks Dept. also requires signature of a waiver from all users. I would imagine this practice would continue to be enforced upon completion of the new park. So to answer your question, yes, the city has considered these issues.

    2. pub says:

      I love this. A hoard of [mostly white] kids get a skater park and then complain it’s not good enough.

      White privilege is astounding.

      • Nathan says:

        It’s not an issue of privilege at all. There’s no sense in spending a lot of money on a skate park if it’s not going to address the needs of actual skaters. Better to influence the design now before it gets built.

      • SG says:

        In response to pub…what crap. When the lawsuits start coming in how about you pay the settlements. “White Privilege”…the lastest extortion from the grievance industry.

      • kb says:

        mostly white kids??? please take a trip to the skate park under the manhatten bridge some afternoon.

    3. Robert Deans says:

      Snake run is needed for us older bros

    4. Debbie D. says:

      The initial response from many will likely be contempt (How dare the skaters be upset at the thing we are building for them?), as my grandma may say “looking a gift horse in the mouth.” Perhaps its worth listening a bit.

      The goal of the park is to ensure that skaters have a safe place to skate, which provides a community resource. The added effect is removing skaters from places that arent ideal, like public plazas.

      If it is worth being built, it is worth doing well and so it achieves its intended goal. What is the point in a skatepark people dont want to use? If it can be modified, as they seem to suggest, and work better, what is the harm? This is the kind of open communication and rapport that builds community.

    5. msd says:

      Anything that keeps skateboarders off the sidewalks and endangering is fine with me.

    6. Jeremy says:

      Their statement seems well thought out and reasonable, except for this line. Good lord: “This insistence of the ad-hoc regulation is arbitrary and capricious and has the direct effect of denying recreational use and artistic expression of a substantial percentage of the City’s user base.”

      It sounds like someone who’s been to one too many protests.

    7. Mark Moore says:

      I think the whole idea of a skatepark there at all is weak. There are never more than a few people there. How about a real space lots of people can enjoy and just ditch the whole skatepark idea.

      • Zulu says:

        Mark, what do you consider to be a “real space”? Have you considered that the reason there are not a lot of people there is because the facilities are in poor condition and closed more than it is open? Why do you think the idea is weak, do you engage in the sport?

    8. Wendy says:

      It’s hard to believe that so much money was allocated to this project when there are way more people playing tennis on crappy courts from sunup to sundown.

      • roszco says:

        They should make all of the tennis courts in the city with smaller/lower nets. You know, so it’s easier and maybe designed by people who have never played tennis.

      • Zulu says:

        Wendy, with all due respect, but don’t you think that other people with different interests than yours deserve nice facilities to practice their sport?

    9. Kate from the block says:

      I think they should take the land away and use it for citibikes and all those bike riders the city is always cow toeing to. Lol.

    10. Lori K says:

      I am the parent of now-grown avid skate boarder. I took my son to this park when it first opened (signed the waiver) and saw the day when he went by himself. He no longer uses it because of its deteriorated condition and the short hours. He and his large crew are more street skaters. I support the skaters’ proposal and wish to see the best skate park NYC can build, open more hours, with GOOD supervision, workshops and to allow the skate board culture to present itself as the diverse talented caring athletes they are.